SDLP must clarify its rates proposals

Alliance Party South Belfast Representative, Allan Leonard, has
demanded that the SDLP clarify its proposals for new rates, after South
Belfast MP, Dr Alasdair McDonnell, claimed that his party want the rates system based on the principle of ability to pay.

Leonard, who is also Alliance Party Policy Officer, said: “The Alliance
Party has been consistent, from the early 1970s, that rates must be
abolished. We have repeatedly pledged over several elections to replace
the current rates system with a local income tax, because it is a
fairer and more equitable way to pay.

“The SDLP are also claiming that they want a rating system based on
ability to pay. However, I would like to see them develop their

“My concern is that their proposal is to retain the capital-based
property tax, with numerous exceptions and reliefs for a long list of
groups of people. The problem is that this would be costly to

“You can’t make a property tax into an income tax this way.

“Income tax is generally recognised to be the fairest of taxation.
It is the form of taxation that best reflects an individual’s ability
to pay.

“Given that the Inland Revenue are aware of the home address of all
tax payers, it would be easy for the Assembly or District Councils to
inform Inland Revenue of the top-up levels that they require (as
replacements for the regional rate and district rate respectively), so
that they can collect the required funds. The PAYE system could also be

“This system has the benefit of greater fairness and transparency.”


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